Living the resurrection

By | April 4, 2012

Peter’s speech in this Sunday’s first reading is a type of creedal summary of the early church’s understanding of Jesus and his role in salvation. There are a number of such speeches in Acts and they seem to have their roots as early catechetical tools for those entering the Christian community. Like the pieces of the Gospels, it is thought that these speeches existed independently before being incorporated into a fully formed Gospel whole. The Acts of the Apostles forms the second half of the Gospel of Luke and is written in such a way that the works, words and miracles of the Apostles mirror those of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. This reveals a very ancient understanding of the church and her Lord as being mystically one. We too are called to mirror him in thought, word and deed.

Each of us implicitly assents to Peter’s creedal speech on Sunday when we proclaim the Nicene Creed. Proclaiming the creed with our voice and living as though the creed were true are two different things. We’ve all had times in our life when our heart and soul were not living the words we professed. Consider how we live the dramatic ending of the speech, “he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

In light of the resurrection, Christ alone is our judge. Yet it is often the case that we live in such a way that this statement is rendered false. We may fear the tribunal of our peers and can often be rendered speechless when called upon to charitably speak the truth of our faith. In its lack of faith, our world is deeply troubled by death and aging and finds itself haunted by fear and bitter sorrow. The Christian’s life is lived differently than others because she does not fear death as the rest do. In fact, she can even give her life completely away so that others might live.

St. Paul encourages us to live in just such a way when he exhorts us to “seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God … not of what is on earth.” This heavenly perspective in all things changes our decisions and keeps us focused on the fact that we are going somewhere bigger, better and much longer lasting than this passing life. Internalizing the truth of eternity allows us to evaluate more wisely the things of earth and to hold fast to the things of God. We can enjoy the things of life but not cling to them; we can endure sorrows and accept shadows knowing that one day all will be explained. Not easy. In this, the Christian’s life becomes motivated and animated by a completely different playbook. To the world our life seems odd and even mysterious. This is a good sign that our life has become “hidden with Christ in God.”

Questions for Reflection

1. What is the evidence in my life that I’ve accepted the resurrection?

2. How am I evaluating things in the light of eternity?

Fr. Vander Steeg is pastor of St. Mary Parish, Greenville, and St. Edward Parish, Mackville.

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